Imagine designing your first dress at 5 years old, and then fitting your design on a real client at 11. By 19, New York native and creator of Garo Sparo Atelier, Garo Sparo, began his own business designing elaborate costumes, outfits and looks for drag queens like Miz Cracker, Miss Fame, Peppermint, Lady Bunny and performers like Amanda Lepore, Madonna, Nicki Minaj and Gwen Stefani.
Despite being an innovative creator working behind the scenes of stardom, Garo’s success was not born overnight. He grew up on Long Island, as the son of immigrant parents, with four brothers in a house that never lacked a place to sew. The Italian-American family had a coverlet and lacemaking business in Sicily, and upon moving to America his mother found work in Manhattan’s Garment District.
While attending college in North Carolina in 1995, Garo got a chance to travel back to New York City to showcase his designs at Absolut Alternative Fashion Week. Although this was his first big break, his true creativity found its home and voice in the New York City underground club scene.
“You learn the hard way you’re not a star instantaneously. You get this opportunity, but you have to parlay it to the next thing and the next thing.” Garo told Newsday.
Since then, he has been the subject of a self-titled reality TV series on the Sundance Channel, Unleashed by Garo. Most recently, he competed in Season 17 of Project Runway, competing with other top designers in the season finale. Garo still gets his inspiration first from the person he is designing for, observing their essence and combining it with his interests at the moment — usually a mix of sci-fi, nature and even architecture. The “big reveal” is just one of Garo’s specialties, creating tear-away looks to make the most unexpected garment come off and become something new.
As much as he loves creating stage wear and out-of-this-world costumes Garo wants to make glamour accessible to everyone saying,
“One day we are all going to be able to dress the way we feel inside, and that will be my time to shine.”
As far as we can tell, his light shines brightly on us all.
Garo Sparo is Made in NYC’s final Pride feature, but you can support his work by heading to garosparo.com.
We want to thank all of the LGBTQ+ owned Made in NYC members for their graciousness and permission in allowing us to highlight their stories. It is our mission to support entrepreneurs and manufacturers from all walks of life, especially when they choose to create in our great city.